The Freemasons are an international ecumenical, apolitical, non-denominational fraternal order that can be traced as far back as the 17th century in France. The teachings were brought to the United States by the late 18th century via colonial Caribbean communities.
Up until 1802, all Freemason lodges and various sub-groups in the United States recognized themselves as having a common source and followed freemason doctrine, but did not operate under a single umbrella. As a result, the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for the United States of America was formed with the motto “Ordo ab Chao”—meaning “Order from Chaos.”
The Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree most specifically represents the Scottish Rite. The Scottish Rite expands upon the standard practices of freemasonry—the initial three degrees of which lead to the designation of Master Mason—to include twenty-nine additional lateral “degrees” that increase one’s knowledge and understanding of the “Craft” without increasing one’s hierarchical rank.
As such, a member of the Scottish Rite can attain up to the 32nd degree. There is another degree, one of high honor, that can only be bestowed upon a member through nomination, in recognition for one’s dedication to charity, community, and other tenants of freemasonry. That degree is the 33rd.
Jews have been involved with freemasonry from the outset. In fact, there were four Jewish members in the original eleven-member Supreme Council that convened in North Carolina in 1801. Prominent Jews have remained involved since—including some with a connection to Dallas.
This certificate was presented to Isaac Sam Roback, a prominent member of the Dallas Jewish Community on April 30, 1926 for attaining the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite. Below is a rough translation of the Latin text:
Banner at the top: “God the great source and origins of the Universal Honor”
Seal: “Order from chaos/In God is our trust, God willing”
Body Text: “We, the general inspectors who sit in the Supreme Council, bear witness to all freemasons of this rite living amongst any people who are going to inspect this letter that our brother who has rendered valuable services to us that same rite.
Isaac Sam Roback, living in Dallas, TX, whose name is written by his own hand in the margin, is a Master of the Royal Secret of the 32nd degree of the same rite.
Therefore, we request all masons who are living in any country outside of our jurisdiction, but order those located within our jurisdiction, to recognize him, our brother, in his dignity of character and to do well towards him. And we promise to respect the same of brothers who come to us with similar documentation. The Imperator Excelsus, Scriba Generalis, and Cancellarius Grandis have signed the seal of the Council, we have ordered to fortify our cities, today the thirtieth day of April, 1926.”